Johnson's plan to lock up more criminals is a con
While the Prime Minister is lying to you, the rest of the criminal justice system rots
|HMP Birmingham in crisis - Lockdown - 1 March 2019|
Here is a summary of the main points - and a link to the secret barrister's website: press here.
- Boris Johnson's plans are a con. He declares: 'Left-wingers will howl. But it's time to make criminals afraid - not the public'. Criminals must 'get the sentence they deserve'. In other words, let's lock up more people for longer.
- Yet the idea that longer prison sentences by themselves make any of us safer is a fantasy. The notion that knife crime will be solved if we simply lock up young men for years on end is a hoax. What does act as a deterrent is not severity of sentence but certainty: the likelihood of being caught and dealt with swiftly.
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- Moreover crime reduction and prevention is not achieved solely by deterrence. Rehabilitation is a vital part of protecting the public. That is why, when dealing with complex, multi-causal offending rooted in social and cultural problems - caused in large part, I would add, by the neoliberal Tory-shaped misgovernment of the past decade - the courts may decide to keep a young man out of prison and punish him in the community.
Do the 'oiks' - the ordinary plebs - really matter? When Johnson, Cameron and Osborne were undergraduate members of the offensive Bullingdon Club at Oxford, what were their views on 'The Lower Orders'?
- Reoffending rates are lower when offenders are kept in the community. Send them to prison and they lose their job, their social housing and their relationship, and exit prison with no support network other than the new friends they made inside.
- But such argument and evidence is of no interest to Johnson. This Eton and Oxford-educated opportunist simply resorts to infantile attacks on those who offer a critique of his false claim that our justice system is soft. We already lock up more offenders than any other European country. Prison sentences have been getting longer and longer. We have more prisoners detained on indefinite and life sentences than any other country in the Council of Europe.
- As Johnson lies to us, the criminal justice system rots. Courts are being closed down and sold off across the country. Half of all magistrates' courts have been closed, meaning defendants, victims and witnesses have to travel for hours on ineffective public transport to get to the 'local' court.
- The PM must have been advised that we have record rates of death, violence, suicide, overcrowding and self-harm in our prisons - and yet his first response is to pack more people behind bars.
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